Galdhøpiggen is located in the beautiful Jutunheimen National Park in the Southern half way of Norway. It is the highest peak in Norway, Scandinavia, and the Nordic Countries although it is only five metres higher than nearby Glittertind. It stands at the height of 2,469 m (8,100 ft). Galdhøpiggen means “the peak of the mountain Galdhø “. The first element of the word Galdhø is ‘Gald’ which means “steep mountain road” and the second element is ‘hø’ it means “big and rounded mountains”.
The mountain is probably the most popular peak to climb in Norway due to its elevation and the fact that is technically straight forward with no mountaineering skills required. The mountain is surrounded by expansive glacier on three sides with the exception being to the east.
How to reach there
The nearest airports to the mountain are Bergen, Oslo, and Trondheim in Norway. Lom is the gateway town for Jotunheimen. Norway has around 5 buses a day from Oslo which go through Oslo Gardermoen Airport. Norwegian Station Railways (NSB) have trains from Oslo to Otto from where there are connecting buses to make the short ride to Lom. Bus times coordinate with the train arrival times. From Oslo, take the E6 to Otta which is 308 kilometres then Road 15 to Lom which have a distance of 64 kilometres. From Lom, take Highway 55 i.e Sognefjell Mountain Road and then turn off for either Spiterstulen, Juvashytta, or Leirvassbu (for Geitsætre). All are sign posted. In the summers, there are buses that travel along Highway 55 between Lom and Sogndal. And in out of season you need your own transport otherwise be prepared for walk.
Overview of trails
Conventionally, the trails starts at Spiterstulen. There are three ways or trails or route to reach Galdhøpiggen.
- East Ridge from Spiterstulen : The route from Spiterstulen is a straight forward and non technical route of 1400 m climb. It takes four hours to climb Galdhøpiggen and two hours for descent. The majority of the route is across either with rock or snow depending upon the season. There are some small section of the glacier to cross, which are close to the summit and it required crampons, particularly, if the ice is exposed. While climbing to the trail, knowledge of weather and and sure-footedness on scree and boulder terrain are the main requirements.
- Northern approach through the Styggebrean Glacier : Another popular route starts at the Juvashytta lodge, to the North-East. This route is just about 600 m, considered to be the shortest route of all, which is climb by crossing the Styggebrean Glacier. As with nearly any glacier, crevasses and rope may be required if there is snow coverage. While travelling the Styggebrean Glacier, the route climbs an easy, rocky ridge to the summit. Guides are also available at Juvashytta.
- Western approach from Geitsætre : It is a longer route, which avoids weekend crowds. It starts from Geitsætre in Leirdalen, the route follows the Nørdre Illåe upto the Nørdre Illåbrean Glacier. After crossing the Storjuvbrean Glacier to the East and climb up “Porten” a couloir between Galdhøpiggen and Vetlepiggen. After that continue towards east towards the Styggebrean Glacier to join the route from Juvashytta.
When to climb the Galdhøpiggen Mountain
Whole year is possible to climb but mostly people love to travel in the summer months i.e. from June to August because of temperature weather and longer hours of lights. But few people go in November to February. It is so dark and cold that time. Cross-country skiing in the Easter is possible. If you want to avoid large crowd than it is recommended not to climb during summer weekends and on public holiday, because it is a popular mountain.